Wash Post's Dana Milbank: The Koch Brothers Are 'Demons' With 'Pitchforks'

MSNBC talking heads spend a lot of time demonizing Republicans and conservatives, but on Monday’s PoliticsNation, frequent contributor Dana Milbank made that connection directly and compared the Koch brothers to demons.

Milbank and host Al Sharpton were discussing the verbal attacks on David and Charles Koch that many Democrats, especially Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, have carried out lately. Sharpton asked why Democrats were pushing this issue so hard, and Milbank responded, “Look, everybody knows that in politics, you need demons. And the Koch brothers are uniquely qualified to play that role. I mean, they couldn't be any better for it if they were carrying around pitchforks and had horns.”


Milbank also said the real question was not why Democrats were carrying out a vicious smear campaign against two private citizens, but “why have they waited until now to do it?”

The Washington Post columnist clearly supports the attacks on the Koch brothers, or at least doesn’t oppose them. However, he sang a different tune back in January 2012 when Newt Gingrich launched a much milder attack on liberal billionaire George Soros. On that occasion, Milbank did not side with Gingrich, but rather accused the presidential candidate of using an anti-Semitic dog whistle. He made this comment on the January 30, 2012 edition of PoliticsNation:
 

[Gingrich] got up earlier today in a similar vein and said it's time to send a message to George Soros and Goldman Sachs and the New York establishment, that it's -- money, power doesn't matter, and it's time to bring back the people power. That's – many people would hear that as a dog whistle as well.
 

So it's okay for a prominent Democrat to spear a couple of conservative billionaires, but it's not okay for a prominent Republican to attack a liberal billionaire? In Dana Milbank’s world, apparently so.

Below is a transcript of Monday's segment:

AL SHARPTON: So Senator Harry Reid just tweeted, quote, many Republican senators might as well wear Koch insignias to donate – to donate their sponsorship. Why are Democrats hitting the GOP so hard on this issue, Dana?

DANA MILBANK: I think the real question, Reverend Al, is why have they waited until now to do it? Harry Reid has been out there delivering this message for weeks. And I think others are just realizing the power of it. Look, everybody knows that in politics you need demons. And the Koch brothers are uniquely qualified to play that role. I mean, they couldn't be any better for it if they were carrying around pitchforks and had horns. It's two of the wealthiest people in the world. Number five and six of the world's top billionaires. And they got their money from oil. It's the sort of thing that can really motivate the Democratic base. Now look, this is not looking to be a great year for Democrats, but it's always better to be on the offensive than it is playing defense. And I think this gives the Democrats something to be talking about other than defending themselves.

SHARPTON: Now Dana, you know, a new poll shows that 52 percent of Americans have never heard of the Koch brothers. But of those who have heard of the brothers, more than half had an unfavorable view.

MILBANK: Right, and, well, large numbers of Americans had not heard of Tom DeLay before he became a punching bag for Democrats. Certainly large amounts of Americans had not heard of Bain Consulting before the Obama campaign made that an issue in 2012. So the fact that they're unknown actually allows the Democrats to define them. Because they're so secretive, it adds to the mystique and it allows them to do that. And it's one reason why Democrats feel – has a feeling that the fortunes have shifted in the last week or so. Part of it’s the Ryan budget coming out and part of it’s hitting the 7 million with health care. There's a feeling that the ground is no longer falling out from the Democrats in this midterm election.

Paul Bremmer
Paul Bremmer is a Media Research Center News Analysis Division intern.